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Global Health
September 18, 2013

Genetic Damage Linked to Elevated Arsenic Levels in Rice

JAMA. 2013;310(11):1113. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277622

Elevated amounts of arsenic in rice can cause genetic damage in people who consume this staple food, report researchers from the United Kingdom and India (Banerjee M et al. Scientific Reports. 2013;3:2195).

The researchers assessed genetic damage in more than 400 individuals in rural West Bengal, India, who had not been exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water but who ate cooked rice on a daily basis. The genotoxic effect of arsenic was measured by counting micronuclei, damaged pieces of chromosomes unable to participate in cell division, within urothelial cells obtained from urine samples of the participants. An increased frequency of micronuclei is linked to cancer development.

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